The Mystery Writer: Little Boy Lost

I have written the fictional account of a lost boy on an oilfield town’s street. In every piece of fiction, there is always a nugget of truth.

His story was one that has haunted me for a long time. It’s true. It happened during the East Texas Oil Boom in my hometown of Kilgore. After all of these years, his story has finally found life, forming the backbone of my new novel, Lost Side of An Orphan’s Moon, the third book in The Boom Town Saga.

It’s historical.

It’s a mystery.

As I wrote about the book:  Who is the small boy who stepped off the train with a paper note attached to his coat that said: My name is Ollie Porter. My daddy is Oliver Porter. He works in the oilfields. Does anyone know where he is? Is the boy connected to the fancy dancer or, perhaps, the killer? Or is he just a waif in search of a home? 

The true story is just as mysterious. The boy was a fresh face in the midst of strangers, a new face chilled by the rains, and the rains showed no sign of ever stopping. He stepped from the train, lost and alone. He had been that way for a long time.

He was only nine years old.

I found his story on the back page of a Kilgore newspaper printed in 1932. The pages were yellowed. The words were fading. The story had already faded. The story was gone. And I grieved for the boy.

The newspaper story was a short one. One column. One paragraph. Small headline. An afterthought, maybe. Newspaper layouts always had a little hole from time to time.

Some reporter filled it.

Caleb Pirtle III

He wrote of a frightened little boy who shyly stepped off the train and into mud that was piled ankle-deep on Kilgore’s streets.   On the boy’s jacket was a tag, and on it, someone had written the lad’s name and the name of his daddy.

His fare had paid his way to Kilgore.

He would go no farther.

And he had no idea where to do next, surrounded by strangers and faces he had never seen before.

His mama had packed him up like a suitcase and sent him for hundreds of miles down an endless railroad track to find his daddy.

His daddy was working in the oilfield.

That’s all his mama knew.

His daddy could feed him.

She couldn’t.

She was penniless and destitute.

The boy’s only hope was to find his daddy.

Did he?

I never knew.

The story disappeared from the pages of the newspaper and was forgotten.

The missing pieces have haunted me for a long time.

In Lost Side of an Orphan’s Moon, I write the fictional account of a lost boy on an oilfield town’s street.

In every piece of fiction, there is always a nugget of truth.

Please click HERE to find Lost Side of an Orphan’s Moon on Amazon.

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